John McCain was in trouble before Colin Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama. Now, he’s in a desperate uphill battle just to stay competitive in the race. The former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s endorsement couldn’t have come for a worse time for McCain.
With only one week left until the end of our electoral debacle, McCain has to struggle to regain control of the news cycle to try to get his message across, in addition to having lost the ability to play the “national security” card.
But McCain being McCain, he will continue to stick to his guns and press on, just as the band did on the Titanic as it sank into the dark abyss. The McCain camp is dead set on replicating the Nixonian formula of exploiting the cultural and racial divisions in America, hoping that there’s a “silent majority” of voters out there who can be scared into voting Republican.
Not this time. McCain is finding himself with ever less ground to stand on as his running mate, Caribou Barbie, has seen her favorability ratings plummet in the weeks since the Republican National Convention.
Her recent statements expressing happiness in visiting the “pro-American” parts of America combined with her blatant lack of knowledge on several key issues serve only to further scare away those with doubts on whom to support. Why? Because if you don’t vote Republican, Sarah Palin thinks you’re a terrorist.
But the problem extends far beyond Sarah Palin. Senator McCain has simply refused to discuss policy in any meaningful way besides making untrue claims that Obama is an evil super villain who wants to balloon the size of government and is in bed with Bill Ayers.
In the third Presidential debate when asked what he would do about government spending, McCain said that he would “take a hatchet” to the Federal budget and institute a government spending freeze on “all but the most important programs,” including defense, veterans care, social security, and healthcare.
While that may be a good talking point to position himself as a fiscal conservative, it demonstrates a lack of understanding about the fundamental problems facing America. Obama wants to “take a scalpel” to the Federal budget, cutting ineffective, redundant programs, while continuing to fund successful ones.
McCain’s solution would be to lock nearly everything in its place regardless of circumstance. Exactly how does that directly cut the waste out of government?
During these tough economic times, America wants a cool, collected leader with the intellectual curiosity and willingness to look outside the box to solve our problems. Barack Obama has demonstrated his ability to lead and answer tough questions on the issues.
McCain’s erratic behavior and personal attacks in the midst of the ongoing economic meltdown are doing little to sway the American public, making him seem out of touch. Misstating Barack Obama’s former acquaintances are cute, but it doesn’t address the fundamental questions voters have. It’s the economy, stupid!
If McCain is to have a shot at winning this election, he needs to get on message and talk about what Americans want to hear. Unfortunately for him, the last presidential debate has passed, and from here on in, most of the campaign coverage will be sound bytes from big rallies and television advertising.
This is certain to give a further advantage to Obama, who is dramatically outspending him in nearly every major metropolitan market.
Try to remember that in the end, life as a U.S. Senator isn’t all that bad.
Dan Yelin is a junior in the Department of Political Science.